A senior UK Government minister has visited the University of Stirling where he endorsed ambitious plans to create two multi-million-pound international research centres on campus.
David Lidington CBE MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, received a tour of the world-leading Institute of Aquaculture where he had the opportunity to learn first-hand how Stirling research is making a difference across the globe.
Mr Lidington – the third Cabinet member to visit this year – heard about plans to develop a new aquaculture innovation hub and an International Environment Centre, as part of the UK City Region Deal for Stirling and Clackmannanshire.
The Minister, who was welcomed to campus by Senior Deputy Principal, Professor Malcolm MacLeod, also met with students and staff to discuss how the European Union withdrawal agreement could affect the higher education sector.
David Lidington CBE MP and Professor Malcolm MacLeod
Mr Lidington’s visit comes six months after it was announced that the University of Stirling would receive £17 million for the new aquaculture facility, with a further £22 million to be invested in the University-led International Environment Centre. The funding forms part of the £90.2 million City Region Deal, funded by the UK and Scottish Governments.
Mr Lidington said: "I am extremely impressed by what I have seen and heard today at the University of Stirling.
"I am really pleased that the UK Government has been able to provide money for this new aquaculture research facility that will help grow the university's already world leading reputation."
The new aquaculture innovation hub will operate four aquatic research facilities. Unique in the UK, the hub will provide the full range of marine environmental conditions, and create research and development opportunities to grow the export of Scottish aquaculture skills and products.
Professor Malcolm MacLeod, David Lidington CBE MP and Professor Simon MacKenzie
The International Environment Centre, involving a number of partners including Forth Valley College, will draw together academic expertise from across Scotland, the UK and the world. It will connect environmental research with business opportunities and training and will take full advantage of the natural environment and heritage of the region.
Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, toured the Institute of Aquaculture in February, while David Mundell MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, visited in May.
Professor Malcolm MacLeod, the University’s Senior Deputy Principal, said: “Aquaculture is a rapidly expanding industry, with an international growth rate of 8%.
"Investment in innovation and research through the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, will place the University of Stirling’s world-leading expertise at the heart of the global response to this challenge, delivering benefits for Scotland, the UK, and communities worldwide.”